Sunday, March 13, 2011

Taking A Break From Celebrating Things Irish; Boeuf Bourguignon is on Sunday's Menu As the Clocks Change and We Spring Forward

I know St. Patrick's Day is this week and I've been busy testing soda bread recipes and a few other things as the holiday approaches. But today, with the 'spring forward' time change, I got a case of early (maybe premature?) spring fever and I though I'd try a recipe that for me is decidedly 'cold weather' fare before it was too late. The dish was a classic Boeuf Bourguignon.

When I decided to start a blog I was influenced by a movie from a couple of years ago called "Julie, Julia" starring Meryl Streep as the inimitable Julia Child and Amy Adams as a novice chef and blogger Julie Powell.  I loved the premise of the movie and the fact that it was a true story. Julie's quest to try all of Julia Child's recipes appealed to me and one of the most difficult she attempted was the very French Boeuf Bourguignon.

I came across a recipe from Martha Stewart Living circa 2004... it was a bit complicated but I had the time to try it today and my daughter and son-in-law were invited over to be the 'guinea pigs', er, 'recipe tasters' slash 'honored guests'. I also had a bottle of a heavy red wine purchased a couple of years ago (deemed undrinkable by me) at a winery in Northern New Jersey and though it wasn't the official 'burgandy' it was a suitable substitute.

As I wrapped up the preparation, I did a taste test and thought the gravy way too salty. Mon Dieu! Was the dish ruined? But when I served the meat, it was wonderfully tender and had just the right amount of salt. Not sure why that happened but I'm mentioning it should you care to give this recipe a try.

Everyone survived and agreed it was delicious. I served the beef with mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli and french bread but wide egg noodles would be a good substitute instead of potatoes. You'll need about 3 and a half hours from start to finish, a dutch oven, cheesecloth and a couple of hungry guests!

Boeuf Bourguignon
Serves 8
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, chopped
 8 cloves garlic, chopped
10 sprigs flat leaf parsley, cut in half
(reserve some for garnish)
6 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs rosemary
2 dried bay leaves
1/2 tsp peppercorns
2 tbls olive oil
6 ounces salt pork  (trim off rind and cut into small pieces)
3 pounds beef chuck cubed
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
3 tbls all-purpose flour
3 cups beef stock
1 bottle red wine, preferably burgandy
1 tsp tomato paste
1 pound frozen pearl oions
1/2 c water
1 tbls unsalted butter
1 tbls sugar
10 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and quartered

  • Cut 2 12 x 22 inch pieces of cheesecloth and lay them on a clean surface, overlapping in the center to form a cross. In it, place the chopped onion. carrots, garlic, parsley, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves and peppercorns. Gather the ends together and tie with kitchen twine. Place in a dutch oven and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat and add salt pork. Saute until brown and crisp. Using slotted spoon transfer pork to dutch oven leaving fat in skillet.
  • Season beef cubes with salt and pepper and working in two batches place beef cubes in skillet browning on both sides. Transfer with tongs or long fork to dutch oven, leaving fat in skillet.
  • Whisk the flour into fat in the skillet and slowly add  the three cups of beef stock, stirring until thickened.
  • Pour liquid into dutch oven around the cheesecloth bundle. Add wine and tomato paste, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil then transfer, covered, to oven. Cook for about 2 and a half hours in oven.
  • Remove pot from oven and transfer cheesecloth bundle to a strainer over a bowl. Squash the bundle down releading liquid. Discard bundle and add juices to dutch oven. 
  • Remove beef and pork from the pot using a slotted spoon, setting aside. Return liquid to a boil over high heat reducung liquid further. Skim surface off oil if possible.Reduce heat and add the meat back in.
  • While that is cooking, put skillet over high heat. Add onions, water, butter, sugar and mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated. Remove from heat and transfer to dutch oven. Season to taste and serve immediately. Garnish with reserved chopped parsley.

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